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Government 'robs the nation' of life-saving first aid skills

9 July 2013

The government has published details of the new statutory English schools curriculum, which fails to mention first aid education.

This worrying move flies in the face of calls by many organisations – including the British Red Cross – for the government to make life-saving skills part of core subjects such as Science and PE.

The UK is currently lagging behind most of Europe in the number of young people trained in first aid, according to research. An ICM poll in January found that only 20 per cent of secondary school students in England and Wales have learned first aid in the classroom.

“Young people themselves are keen to learn first aid. Findings show that 91 per cent of students would like to learn first aid in schools. This makes it all the more unfortunate that government has decided to ignore this essential discussion,” says Jonathan Ellis, Head of Policy, Research and Advocacy at the Red Cross.

“We all know that emergencies can happen anywhere, but only seven per cent of people in the UK can correctly recall first aid advice and feel confident and willing to give first aid. So, simple skills learned in just a few minutes – like what to do if someone becomes unconscious – can save lives.

“We fear that the decision by government to ignore our calls today, will rob the nation of a generation of responsible life-savers in the future.”

Support from public and MPs ignored

The Red Cross’ Pupil, Citizen, Life-saver campaign called for first aid and humanitarian education to be at the heart of the national curriculum in England. The campaign was supported by over 10,000 people, and 135 MPs signed a Parliamentary Petition supporting the cause.

The new curriculum does not acknowledge this support. The amends that the Red Cross requested to the proposed curriculum were also ignored.

The Red Cross will now urge the government to consider ways to promote first aid education in schools. Fifty schools are currently running a pilot scheme to promote health and wellbeing – the Red Cross wants a "healthy schools" approach to be common across every school.

First aid education remains a priority for the charity.


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